So, this weekend I was blessed to catch 4 feet of snow coming down Friday through Sunday at Wolf Creek. In 30 years of skiing, I've never been lucky enough to catch ski days like the past two. I moved over the summer and the weekend was my second and third day skiing Wolf.
But, what struck me is how completely different the attitude was. I'm used to a certain amount of tension and competition on big snow days- ranging from people agressively passing eachother on the drive to the hill, queuing up for first chair, furiously poling/skating away from the top of the lift to grab first tracks down the run of choice, etc.
At Wolf, the prevailing attitude was incredibly laid back. People were much more leisurely in getting to the lifts, and I would say the prevailing consensus was "who cares, its not like this much snow can be skied out." I ran into one woman who stood in jarring contrast to this- while waiting 5 minutes to get her season pass picture taken, she was berating the employee about how she was "being punished" for having to wait to get her pass. As she didn't understand the process, my guess is it was either her first season as a passholder, or her first season skiing at Wolf. But it got me thinking that her nervousness and stress over losing 5 minutes before getting to the snow seemed far more typical at what I saw at other resorts- not being a dick to the staff, but being cross trying to get out skiing.
So, how would you describe the vibe on a typical powder day at your hill, and do you think it reflects positively or negatively to your area? I'll start with a few of my former home areas or areas I am used to skiing.
Monarch: A typical weekend powder day has 10-12 people queued at each lift before the lifts start spinning. People in line ask people in front of them what they plan to ski, with everyone planning what they will grab first tracks on. Lots of anticipation, but everything pretty friendly. Long periods between snowfall and especially deep dumps amps up the nerves quite a bit, but I haven't witnessed lift line fights, line cutting, etc.
Sunlight: An interesting dynamic as it takes 2 lifts to reach the summit. On a powder day, Its fairly typical for the second chair off lift 1 to try to beat the first chair down to the 2nd lift, and so on for the first few chairs. Depending on the time of year, 75% of the skiers may be flatlanders, church groups, etc., with as many people complaining about "lack of grooming" as as jockeying to hit fresh lines. On weekday powder days, it is fairly common to have first chair showing up at 8:55, so the vibe is whatever you make of it.
Steamboat: I've witnessed lots more aggro here. I've witnessed people screaming at beginners for failing to fill up a chair, people passing each other at the entrace to lift lines, Banzai Challenge style skiing to be first to Storm Peak Express, and people displaying a lot of general hostility. This isn't everybody on every powder day, but the experience left a bad taste in my mouth.
Aspen/Snowmass: Powder days seem like a mix of locals and people on vacation, with the vacationers stressing about trying to get to all the stuff they've read about, with the locals tending to be more laid back. I've witnessed Clark Griswold style yelling as dad tries to get his family in the lift line so they have their "dream vacation." I've also met plenty of Aspen vacationers that really care much more about partying in Aspen than skiing- I remember riding gondola on a 13" day at Ajax with a guy with a daypass, Talking on his cell about how he flew in the morning before, how hung over he was from the night before, how he was probably only going to do one run, and what the "apres" plans were- seemed a silly way to blow $110.